Archive for March, 2012

A recent trip to the Presidio led to a traverse through the San Francisco National Cemetery.

I have always been fascinated by cemeteries.  These κοιμητήριον, or “sleeping places” are often an under-appreciated and utilized part of our public cultural landscape.  At this moment in history, we have a particularly monomic use of cemetery grounds.  However, they did not always have such a singularity of purpose.  Indeed, when uncle FLO (Frederick Law Olmstead) designed Mount Auburn Cemetery in the Boston suburb of Watertown, it was intended to be a “garden cemetery”, and function much like a park.  With a bucolic, open, rolling design, the landscape was accentuated with studded with beautifully worked monuments to life.  This also reflected changing cultural reflections upon death and the afterlife.

Sprawling Minimalism

The vast, sparse expanse of the space channels my attention to the few elements that are present: the sky, the white marble grave markers, the verdant grass, the sweeping Bay views, and stately monterey pine.  Continuing up the slope and neatly hopping a low stone fence revealed a stand of close growing Monterey Cyress, standing as straight and orderly as a brigade of soldiers.

An American flag will never fly from the rifle rack of my pickup truck, but I feel humbled and grateful for those who protect our country.

Click here for more info from the NPS about Post Cemetery


Japanese Tea Garden

At our BASE corporate day-long retreat, we enjoyed the visual and somatic comfort of these elegant, timeless site furnishings at the Japanese tea garden in Golden Gate Park.

The Japanse Tea Garden in San Francisco is the oldest public tea garden in the country.  Having a visioning session there was consistent with our desire to live in, contribute, and be inspired by the public landscape.

The Hagiwara family originally created this tea garden as a “Japanese Village” exhibit for the 1894 Midwinter International Expo.  Originally 1 acre, the site grew to its current 5 acres, and the family lived there until 1942, when, at a low point in our history, they, along with 120,000 Japanese Americans, were moved to internment camps.  After the war ended, the Hagiwara family was not allowed to return to the beautiful garden they had so thoughtfully crafted-a harsh exile indeed.

Simple in construction, durable in materiality, and refined in their demeanor, I was impressed with the obvious signs of workmanship on these pieces.  I do not know the origin of these pieces.

Signage Matters

Environmental signage is important, whether it’s a monumental piece of artwork or a simple moveable element.  In this case at Lincoln Center’s public recital hall, I appreciate the contrast of the high quality “charlie brown” sign with polished hardscape and industrial strength entryway.  The simplicity of message, the clarity of direction, its movability, the elegance of proportion, the economy of construction – all well done, in my opinion.

We are fortunate to have worked with several high quality signage fabricators in the area – if you need a recommendation for professional signage fabricators, we recommend you check out Martinelli Graphics here in SF, or the handpainted creations of tattoo-artist/signage company Made For Glory (no official website, but googlable) in Oakland, CA.

Bobcat Lessons

bobcat lesson

A big “thank you” to Del Fitchett @ Bishop Ranch, as he was generous enough to give us instruction on the Bishop Ranch bobcat.  Our mission was to help load greenwaste into a dumpster destined for off-site disposal.  As part of its sustainability initiative, Bishop Ranch is in the process of composting its copious greenwaste on-site and returning it to the soil to build nutrients and create a probiotic soil conditions over time.  Healthier soils require fewer fertilizers, and have the ability to retain a greater volume of water.